Webster Dean Discusses the Economic Impact of Ebola

On August 18, 2014, in In the News, by Walker News

akande-headshotIn a recent interview with Voice of America, Benjamin Ola. Akande, professor of economics and dean of the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology at Webster University, discusses how the Ebola virus is hurting economies in West Africa. “The economic implications of this Ebola virus are staggering,” he said, “because it’s on the edge of possibly shutting down the economic lifeline for the affected countries.”

Read the story and watch the video for more insights.

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Lessons from Ferguson, Missouri

On August 15, 2014, in In the News, by Walker News

Remarks from  Walker School Dean Benjamin Ola. Akande as published in the St. Louis Business Journal
-August 15, 2014

Like many others, I am both horrified and saddened by the news coming out of the St. Louis region this week in the wake of the shooting death of a young African-American male in Ferguson. Authorities have confirmed that the youngster was shot by a police officer. The circumstances are still unclear and the investigation is continuing.

In the aftermath of the shooting, at least 12 Ferguson businesses were looted or destroyed during the unrest, according to news reports. One TV station broadcast images of a couple of looters hauling an ATM out of a convenience store. At least two officers were injured and more than 30 people were arrested. One civilian was severely injured.

Stories about the disturbance have made headlines around the country and around the world, possibly injuring the reputation of the St. Louis metro area.

City riots consistently have devastating consequences, particularly on the financially vulnerable. Between 1964 and 1971, about 700 instances of unrest were reported in the nation’s cities. Many African-American residents paid steep prices — literally. Two studies conducted for the National Bureau of Economic Research and published in 2004 showed that the negative economic impact of urban riots on African-Americans was much greater in the long run. The studies confirm a decline in median black family income of about 9 percent in cities where disturbances occurred, sometimes over a period longer than a decade. They found about a 4 percent decline in the employment rates of black males during this period. And they also found that the riots led to a significant drop in the value of black-owned homes in those cities.

Many cities never fully erased the scars of the riots as businesses fled, taking considerable tax revenue — and jobs — with them. The same businesses that were destroyed over the weekend in Ferguson are an important part of the city’s financial lifeblood.

Still, I dare to believe that some good can come out of this.

A friend of mine, who is a respected community leader, told me that, sadly, the events of this past weekend fuel an unfair perception of African-Americans and young black males. He said it also highlights a need to tackle an underlying problem so history doesn’t repeat itself and undermine the hard work and financial sacrifices of the peaceful majority.

“The region needs to have an honest conversation about race that will be uncomfortable,” he said. “My take is that so many of us do not understand the experiences our neighbors’ have lived, and until we take the time to have the difficult conversations about past injustices and how they still impact today, we will not get better.”

Such conversations could be a first step in soothing the painful scars from the events of these past few days. They would also go a long way in honoring the memory of this young man and bringing the community together again.

akandeAbout the Author:  Benjamin Ola Akande Ph.D., is a professor of economics and dean of the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology at Webster University.

George Herbert Walker III

George Herbert Walker III

In an interview with former U.S. Ambassador George Herbert Walker III, he discusses his affiliation with Webster University and the importance of an international presence in the business community. A St. Louis native and a long-time supporter of Webster University, Ambassador Walker’s contributions resulted in the naming of the School of Business & Technology to the George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology. Watch this interview for insights from Ambassador Walker George Hebert Walker III Interview

michelle-price

Dean Benjamin Ola. Akande and Walker School Alum Michelle Tucker

Benjamin Ola. Akande, dean of the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology and chief partnership officer of Webster University, offers his perspective on how universities can prepare first-generation college students from diverse backgrounds for successful careers in business and, most important, in life.  In this commentary, he shares a story about Michelle Tucker, an East St. Louis native and Walker School graduate who is now a senior vice president at Bank of America.

Read his remarks and listen to his commentary on St. Louis Public Radio.

Networking Fear Factors!

On August 6, 2014, in Career Insight, by Walker News

The past few weeks I’ve found myself watching the season finales of several television shows, and am amazed at how many of the individuals in reality shows had to overcome their own fears. I watched Survivor and took note of how much determination each competitor had to withstand to make it to the finals.  Remember the show Fear Factor?  I cannot imagine doing what those competitors had to do to overcome their fear.  All of these shows remind me how each of us has to manage our professional fear.  Presenting to the board of directors, influencing others to try something new that has not been proven, stepping into a position without knowing what you are really up against…I could keep going!

One fear that many individuals have is networking.  How to effectively network, and not knowing what to say to a new contact is often the hurdle. So I am addressing some of these concerns in this article. My hope is that if you find yourself in a similar situation that you will be able to overcome your own fear.

Networking Fear Factor # 1:   Not knowing how to get started.

Since networking is about building relationships, the first step is to talk to people with whom you have already developed a relationship. Calling a stranger in an effort to network is a tough call to make.  It often fails because unless there is some connection or something that links the two of you together, most often you are not given permission to take up a stranger’s valuable time. This is where social networking – being part of professional associations and social networking sites – can really help you. Since you have something in common, it is not exactly a cold call.

Networking Fear Factor # 2:   Not believing you have something to offer an employer.

Lois tried networking for several months.  Her conclusion at the end of this period was this: “I am exhausted, and at this point I do not know if I really have anything to offer a potential employer!” Self-doubt is a sure way of sabotaging your own success. Do the work in analyzing your skill and expertise so you are clear about the value you bring to an organization.  Then, never doubt yourself again.

Ask yourself: Where did this self-doubt come from?  Is it from setting unrealistic expectations?  Are your timelines unrealistic?  Have the job markets changed and you find your career target is no longer in demand in your city? Often, self-doubt is a result of not obtaining enough information or facts around the goal you set out to accomplish and not about you.

Networking Fear Factor # 3:  Not being prepared.

Do you know what to say when you are face-to-face networking with a person?  Sarah always had a hard time engaging in a personal meeting because she was not clear about what she wanted out of it.  There was no agenda set, and the communication was lacking before the meeting was underway.  As she described how her networking meeting progressed, I realized she was not directing the meeting, but rather acting as a beggar. She allowed others do the talking, and when she did direct the conversation, it often went the wrong direction. She would leave each meeting without clarity on the next step or new contacts. You can avoid this result by drafting a letter or agenda. Be clear about what you want to cover in the networking meeting. You will find a better result in networking if you are prepared, you set up the expectations for the meeting, and you have your questions ready.

Networking Fear Factor # 4:  Not knowing how to be introduced.

Mike was great at conversing with others, but found it exhausting because almost all of his contacts were personal ones he had created over the years.  He had a hard time finding and getting new contacts.  He would go into a networking meeting, get names and numbers, but did not ask the individual for an introduction to the person he really needed to meet.  He was not getting qualified referrals. He found himself picking up names of individuals that did not have a relationship with anyone whom he needed to contact.  Make sure that you get the introduction.  Suggest that your contact introduce you via email.  You might even suggest or provide an outline of how you want to be introduced.

Networking Fear Factor # 5:  Not having a personal marketing plan.

You need to know what sets you apart from other candidates, not just regurgitate the usual resume jargon. In other words, can you answer the question, “Why should I hire you?”

It’s imperative that you have a clear target rather than a general guideline or area of interest.  What is the actual job title you are targeting? Have you identified what company targets to focus on?  Did you know that you can do damage with your networking contacts if you do not have a target?

Joe had been networking for three months before he realized that when setting up his networking meetings, he did not give his network his target position.  This confused his network.  No one could help him because they did not know what he was really after, nor did they want to refer him on to their friends when it was apparent he did not know what he really wanted.

A job search is not just another item to complete in your day.  It is not just sending out five resumes each day hoping someone will hire you.  You know that landing the right job will make a huge difference in your quality of life, so you need to take it seriously and take the time to do it right.  Make your job search focused, strategic and targeted, and be sure to approach it with tenacity.  Do not be offended by hearing “no” or “I don’t know anyone in that industry.”  It only means “no” right then.  The situation may change in a week or a month.  Stay persistent when looking for qualified leads that will connect you to the right target audience.  Then develop that contact.  If this sounds a little like selling, it’s because it is, and it may be the biggest sale in your life!  So, be prepared and you will be ready to offer your top-of-the-line “product” with skill and expertise.

About the Author:
david hults-2014David Hults is a nationally known career coach and speaker, as well as a columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources from Webster University where he also completed graduate courses toward his MBA.  Since 1987, Hults is the author of five books, a CD coaching series and has created the most sought after interview flash card set, which makes the interview simplified and painless.  His experience in human resources led him to work for Express Scripts, a Fortune 500 company, as well as one of the nation’s largest healthcare systems, BJC.  He has been coaching individuals for more than 20 years on how to break through individual roadblocks while also delivering speeches across the nation discussing how to manage change in careers and organizations today. For more information, visit his website at http://activ8careers.com

quirk-cummings-webTo help students and practitioners in the field of health services management solve statistics problems, George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology Professor of Marketing Thomas J. Quirk, Ph.D. and Associate Professor of Health Care Management Simone Cummings, Ph.D. teamed up to write the book, Excel 2010 for Health Services Management Statistics:  A Guide to Solving Practical Problems.  In addition to providing readers with step-by-step instructions for applying key statistical tests using Excel, the book offers explanations for the steps that are taken.

While statistics problems can be solved in many ways, Professor Quirk said they chose to focus on using Excel to solve problems because, “It’s an easily available computer program for students, instructors and managers.”  He went on to add, “It’s also an effective teaching and learning tool for quantitative analysis because of its powerful numerical computational abilities and graphical functions.”

Associate Professor Cummings noted that although dozens of statistics textbooks are available, this book is the first to show students how to use Excel to solve statistics problems related to the field of health services management.  “Health care professionals use data to guide their decisions, so it’s important for graduates in this field to have a strong foundation in statistics,” she said.  “This book allows students to work through hypothetical statistics problems that are relevant and applicable to their area of study, thereby providing them with ample practice in developing this important skill.”

quirk-cummings-bookThis is the 11th statistics book Professor Quirk has authored in the last three years, and it is his first collaboration with Associate Professor Cummings.  “There is something wonderful about this collaboration between Simone and Tom,” Benjamin Akande, dean of the Walker School, said.  “Not only does their textbook cover two important areas, statistics and healthcare, but it speaks to the application of knowledge and it enables students to solve real-world problems.”

Excel 2010 for Health Services Management Statistics:  A Guide to Solving Practical Problems is published by Springer, a global leader in scientific and technical publishing.  The textbook is available for purchase at Springer.com and Amazon.com.

 

Walker School Dean Featured in Diverse Magazine

On August 1, 2014, in In the News, by Walker News

timthumbIn the July 31 edition of Diverse Magazine, Benjamin Ola. Akande, Ph.D., dean of the Walker School of Business & Technology and chief partnership officer at Webster University, offers his views on how colleges can retain diverse students in the article, “Moon Goal for Colleges: Retention of Diverse Students.”  In addition to challenging institutions to create a moon goal which he describes as an objective an institution is willing to pursue, unwilling to postpone and one it intends to win, his op-ed piece discusses some of the strategies Webster University has implemented to ensure students from diverse backgrounds achieve their higher education aspirations.

Owner, Photographer“I believe the colleges that will thrive in the coming years will be those who excel at preparing people of diverse backgrounds for successful careers and who have carefully cultivated a competitive academic advantage that distinguishes them from their competitors. Adopting such a strategy enables universities to be creative in developing academic programs that are relevant to the needs of students and the marketplace.”

Read his full commentary in Diverse Magazine.

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jp-palmer-ladue-newsThis month, Julie ‘JP’ Palmer-Schuyler, professor of management and director of the doctoral program, was featured in Ladue News‘ special section on “Women in Action.” A triathlete, Palmer-Schuyler completed her 17th Ironman this year.

In the article, she explains how she blends her passion for racing with her job as a professor.  ”When you feel really bad and you think you can’t do something, a lot of times it’s a mental piece that is missing.  If you just give yourself some time, it will pass.”

Read the article (see page 36) for more insights from Professor Palmer-Schuyler.

 

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akande-fox2Benjamin Akande, professor of economics and dean of the Walker School, discussed the state of the economy on Fox 2 News. During the interview, he said that the increase in car sales is evidence that the economy is on the up-swing. He also noted that retail sales, food sales and sales in other areas are also up. While the future looks good and the economy is improving, he cautions that inflation may continue to present some challenges.

Watch the interview for more insights.

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Owner, PhotographerSt. Louis, July 28, 2014.  Enterprise Bank and Trust, the banking subsidiary of Enterprise Financial Services Corp (NASDAQ: EFSC) announced that Dr. Benjamin Ola. Akande has joined its Board of Directors.

Dr. Akande is a tenured Professor of Economics and Dean of the George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology of Webster University. He also serves as Webster University’s Chief of the Office of Corporate Partnerships, which is charged with forging partnerships with organizations and businesses worldwide on behalf of the University.

Steve Marsh, Chairman of the Bank’s Board, commented, “We are thrilled that Dr. Akande is joining our Board. He’s highly respected not only for his effective leadership of Webster University’s business school but also his extensive involvement with leading business and community organizations. We look forward to the visionary, broad-based perspective that Benjamin will bring to the Bank.”

Dr. Akande holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Oklahoma and has completed post-doctoral studies at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the Saïd School of Business at Oxford University. He is Vice Chair of the Board of Argent Capital and serves as a Trustee of the Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri Baptist Medical Center, Rx Outreach, Saint Louis Club and Forest Park Forever.

Dr. Akande is regularly sought out as an economic and policy commentator, with appearances on Anderson Cooper 360, CBS’s Evening News and the St. Louis affiliates of FOX, ABC and NBC. His commentaries have also appeared in USA TODAY and on public radio’s “Marketplace.”

Enterprise Financial operates commercial banking and wealth management businesses in metropolitan St. Louis, Kansas City and Phoenix. Enterprise is primarily focused on serving the needs of privately held businesses, their owner families, executives and professionals.

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